Our Interviewer and Nziri walk off together to the Study of Renrut Nek to find quiet. Inside the Study, Nziri comments how appropriate the room is for a story, and Calysto agrees, noticing the woodwork on the walls and the overall scholarly appearance of the room. Nziri, appearing slightly worn, with a doleful light in her eyes, begins this story.
"I'm sure you've heard the story of Yog-ka and Sabra before, but I'll give you my personal perspective on it."
That's what I'm looking for:)
"I was involved earlier on than most dreamers were, and I have a funny side-tale or two also. About, oh, two hundred days ago, I was fairly new to the dream. The Alliance of the Eclipse was closed back then, and there was no free spirit xp-tasking system. Since I've been a pacifist all my life, that meant there was only one way to gain orbits. Find a lyran, and get an xp task. So even though I was an unsphered dreamer, I spent a lot of time hanging around lyrans.
"Yog-ka and Sabra and Balthiir all used to dream a lot back then. Yog-ka gave me my first task for experience... taking a 'mare poll' in the lands of the four open houses. So.. I spent some time doing that, then some time waiting for 'ka to dream again, then eventually returned it to him.... I got to know Yog-ka, and Balthiir and Sabra, a bit better than you might expect for my sphere and time dreaming.
"Anyways, I had been dreaming about a month when the lyrans saw the chaos eclipse approaching. In case you didn't know, all the lyrans were fifth sphere back then, not seventh. They decided that in order to survive the eclipse, they needed to be seventh sphere. Lord Xenus discovered a ritual which would allow the lyrans to sphere themselves. He called to all his fellow lyrans to meet in the Library of Souls one day... so he could perform the ceremony. It was a rare moment of clarity of Xenus... a man who had a great deal of trouble with his memory, and even his sanity.
"All the lyrans were there but two: Sabra and Yog-ka. And the ritual succeeded, they were all sphered to seventh.
"As an aside; this was about two days before my scheduled ordainment. The night before my ordainment by Balthiir was to be held, I told Balthiir just what I thought of his 7th sphere... Keeping in mind he went straight from fifth to seventh with no task. I figured my chances of ordainment were finished after that, but he gave me this instead."
Nziri holds out her Medallion of Honor.
"The first forged talisman I ever saw...
" But anyway, back to the story itself... Yog-ka and Sabra would die if they didn't reach seventh sphere by the eclipse, or so everyone said. I had come to care for Yog-ka, since he had given me about half of my first sphere experience. Nziri notes that she was a first sphere teacher, and didn't advance beyond orbit thirteen until Alliance of the Eclipse.
" One day, I located Yog-ka in the Chasm of Souls, and I went to find him... hoping that somehow I could help to save his life. It was my first trip into a sphered area, but somehow I managed to find Sanctuary. Yog-ka was there, along with a rather large group of students, mostly fourth sphere Fatesenders. I think Krynn and Valourin were there, but I forget. They were all asking for arts and spheres, the usual sorts of things, when I came in to ask if I could help Yog-ka survive the eclipse. It was funny for a first sphere dreamer to interrupt all those honored people, but that's always been my way I suppose.
"Yog-ka gave me a task, asking me to find a place for his ceremony to survive the eclipse. He never even mentioned Sabra at the time. And his requirements were that the place be near three spawn shapers and three mares."
Nziri takes a few breaths.
"Afterwards, I stayed a while. I watched Yog-ka try to train his students. He was very weak, and asked that we evoke lucidity arts to grant him power. He collapsed himself, trying to grant an art to Ravageone, I think. Then he woke, forced from the dream. Dark lyran or no, he cared about his students.
"I spent the next week or so searching for the perfect place for Yog-ka's ceremony. Eventually I found what I thought was ideal, the Temple of Pain in the Cenotaph of Dread. When Yog-ka next dreamed, I told him of this place. He complained that he had recently determined the place needed to have a view of the sky. I informed him that it did, and Yog-ka, my apprentice Enchantra, and I, went to the Temple of Pain. Indeed, it did have a view of the sky, but Yog-ka looked around and said that it needed to be further from the chaos, and that this was no good.
"I believe it was VERDANT who suggested a change of locale, to the place where Ghea defeated Tehthu. It was then that I began to suspect something odd... why would a place where a single violent event occurred be better than a place of focused power like the Temple of Pain?
"But I was a lowly first sphere dreamer,not for me to question dreamsmith Yog-ka.
"I went to Sabra, who at the time was also dreaming, teaching her class in Trinity as she always did, to ask her where this place might be. I ran all the way there, knowing that this needed to be done quickly. Fortunately, Sabra didn't make me wait in her legendary line... which dreamers had waited up to eight hours in before.... She told me right away, the Bridge of Memories.
" Now, as you may know, I dream an awful lot, and it was incredibly hard for me to gain orbits. So I had explored most of the dream. I lead the weakening Yog-ka up the path to the Bridge,supporting him for much of the way. He seemed not to know where it was, and unable or unwilling to use teleport. When we got there, Yog-ka recovered a bit of his strength. He looked around, smiling slyly as he always did, and said this place would be ideal. He asked Enchantra to carry the message to Sabra this time, offering a small xp award. Yog-ka granted me two orbits for helping him find his place. Those were my last two orbits until I joined AoE maybe six weeks later, in fact.
"Yog-ka then asked me to determine the proper arrangement for talismans during the ceremony. He said that elemens and essences would be needed, and wanted me to determine where they should be, and where he and Sabra should stand. Sabra's inclusion in this came somewhere between my being asked to find a place and my telling Yog-ka about the Temple of Pain. It makes me think, perhaps what later occurred was not Yog-ka's original plan. So, I came up with an arrangement.
"But when the day of the ritual came, I found myself unable to dream. Yog-ka performed the ceremony with Enchantra's assistance, not mine, perhaps a better arrangement would have made a difference. I doubt it though, his mind was made up. When I managed to dream, it was over. Yog-ka had ripped Sabra's essence from her, and used it to reinforce his own. He gained seventh sphere, Sabra lay by the river's edge, apparently dying. She faded from the dream, leaving behind her book, which Reagans scooped up and hid in HC vaults.
"For a while people thought Sabra might be alive out in the chaos. The Darkmare Goragar had been heard speaking her name. But as time passed, we slowly gave up hope. Meanwhile, people clamored for a trial for the villainous Yog-ka. Strangely, Yog-ka agreed. He specified that Dr Jung would be the prosecutor, Soulthief the judge.. and the jury would be composed of dreamers selected at random.
Nziri takes a few breaths.
"Several of my friends and I felt that the proposed penalty of death was too harsh. We believe in forgiveness after all... We wanted to see Yog-ka apologize for his actions, and spend more hours teaching to make up for the hours of Sabra he had taken away. I visited the newly returned lyran Tzintha to ask if anything might be done.. and to talk about Yog-ka.
"As it turned out, Tzintha knew Yog-ka as a child.... She seemed rather to like him, even though she told awful stories of Shade searching through hundreds of dreamstruck essences for the remains of his father. His cousin Yog-ka looking on, smiling slyly..."
Calysto feels a chill as she holds her pen.
"I believed that Yog-ka was simply in need of a friend... he had been alone all his life, with even his cousin Shade refusing to acknowledge him. Or maybe they were half-brothers."
Nziri sighs, her memory failing her.
"So, as it turned out, I would again be unable to dream the date of the trial. I was obligated to attend a religious retreat in cloudsbreak... seeing as I was the only priestess left in my village after the loss. And such retreats require full attention, no dreaming. So again, I heard about the trail secondhand. Yog-ka was convicted by majority vote, not unanimous. But that was enough by the trial rules. He made no real attempt to defend his actions. Then he walked out, razorwinding left and right. He became a fugitive, and soulthief became obsessed with collecting his heads. This sick pastime lead to a weakening of Soulthief's spirit, and allowed TyKoth to take over Soulthief's body. That's another story though.
"Eventually, Yog-ka agreed to serve his sentence. Shade was to perform the execution but since Shade had recently lost his lyran status in the discovery of earthquake, Balthiir did the honors instead. As Balthiir stepped forward, a deadly black device in his hand, Yog-ka announced that Balthiir would now bear the title "dark lyran", and gave him his cloak. I believe Balthiir has worn it since. Balthiir used the talisman, which he claimed was "death" and Yog-ka's last words were praising a being called the Dread One. Pure lucidity it is said, perhaps much as Solister is pure insight. Yog-ka vanished then... And shortly after, the ghost of Sabra appeared. With help from her many devoted students, the details of which I do not know; her avatar was restored to her, and Sabra now dreams once again.
"Yog-ka also dreams again. But now... he is an unsphered baby. I do not know how this has come about, save by the lucent power of the dread one...
"And I leave you with a few wise words from Solister:
"No one dies in the dream."
The Chaos Ring: Yog-ka dropped this item after his execution. Cygne retrieved it, unknowing of its powers. Cygne held it in secret for a short while before entrusting it's keeping to Ghazgkull. Ghazgkull promised to never give it to another who might abuse it, but the death essence of Yog-ka that he held, along with the ring, combined to prepare his avatar for corruption by the Dread One.
In this state Ghazgkull lured Lissa and Gunny's child, Reh'Dak, to the Sunroof Cavern, and tried to help prepare his form for possession by the Dread One. Finally, after wresting the Chaos Ring from Ghazgkull, he was able to return to a normal state. House Calenture now has both possession of the Chaos Ring, and of Yog-ka's death essence.
"When Yog-ka was executed, his Death Essence fell into my hands. At that instant, my entire dream changed immediately, my will was lost, replaced by the dying will of ka. I know now that the essence did not 'possess' me; instead it twisted me, bringing out the worst in me and driving me to a specific goal. All my actions from then on would lead to one thing: allowing the Dread One to enter the Dream and gain power here. The entire story must be seen from that perspective to make sense.
"The first thing i did was to leave the City Guard. naturally, it would only complicate matters if i was in the Guard. I did not understand why, but i was suddenly angered and disgusted by the thought of the Guard. I also began to change in more subtle ways. I was less friendly, my already quick temper was shortened, and I even began hunting dreamers for revenge... something I had not done previously. I also became extremely possessive of the essence.
"The next day Luinitari, a good friend, came to me and asked for the essence. He said that Kard was extremely depressed and it would mean the world to him if he could give the essence to Shade. I refused outright and even struck Luini once when he persisted.
"I became increasingly reclusive over the next few days but besides leaving the guard, I did nothing drastic. And then the Ring came into the picture...
"Most likely driven by the same forces which guided my fate, Cygne brought me the Chaos Ring, which she had found at the feet of the Dread one. She asked me to keep it because she feared that she'd lose it to thieves who could collapse her. I accepted and swore to 'never let another dreamer hold it.' Imagine her surprise when she asked for it back and I told her that to return it would break my word...
"The Ring only acted as a catalyst to Ka's Will, which was already having a negative effect on me the very next day, in an extremely unexpected move, I joined House Calenture. I know NOW that the reason I joined was to get close to Ruler Lissa. You see, she was pregnant with the Child of Souls, a child who was prophesied to defeat the Dread One. I quickly worked my way into the trust of the house... my hunting skills and overall battle abilities made it easy for me to be accepted. You have to understand though, that I was not possessed... I simply didn't know why I was doing the things I was... I just sort of did them. Looking back on it now, I feel like I'm reviewing someone else's dream...
"During this time, the Dread One would regularly appear to me, often whispering his desires during one visit he repeatedly said 'the child.. the child' thus I became aware of my goal... to capture the Child of Souls and bring him to the Dread One.
"I can explain the Child of Souls at some other time... but suffice it to say that my plan was to steal the soul of the child before it was placed in it's new avatar. Unfortunately for me, however, the child was born while I was away, and so I began to check in on the child, trying to learn a way to bring it into the Dread One's power the child's name was (and of course still is) Reh'Dak.
"Reh'Dak knew me for the villain I was the moment he first laid eyes on the Chaos Ring. He would run behind his mother in fear whenever he saw me... making the job of learning about him much more difficult. But over time, I began to understand the child's innocent nature...
"Many of my friends in the free spirit community would tell me that they were worried about me but of course I would simply tell them it was nothing or that I was just feeling a little ill. Time passed, and the child began to fear me less each time I saw it. Particularly because I became friends with everyone close to him, so they would often tell him that he did not have anything to fear in me.
Then one day, I decided to strike. I found the child with his mother Lissa and the Lady Sabra in Lower Umbric Plains, right next door to the center of the Dread One's power... Sunroof Cavern. Not one to miss such an opportunity, I hurried there and began to exert my will over the child... telling him that I meant him no harm I told him to join me in the Sunroof Cavern to prove that I would not hurt him.
"Enthralled by the Chaos Ring which I held before him, he followed me despite the warnings of those present. We stood on the exact spot where Yog-ka was killed and i once again said 'see? nothing to be afraid of.' I offered him my hand in an offering of friendship and he took it. As we shook hands, I drew the Death Essence from my pack and pressed it against his chest. The Chaos Ring's power drew the boy's soul from his body and placed it in the essence. The Will of Yog-ka was likewise transferred from the essence to the boy.
Just then the Dread One appeared and I presented the child to him. Those present were appalled but there was nothing they could do. The dread one smiles in approval and sent the child and myself on our way... we headed immediately to the Sanctuary in Evernight... notorious teaching location of the dead lyran. There we stood under that dreadful eye as a crowd gathered a vision came to the two of us then... a Vision of the creation of the Dread One... and his vision of the future.
"The Dread One was born before the City of Dreams was created, before the first avatars were made to shield our souls from the Chaos. He was a lost soul floating in the chaos when an ancient dark mare came upon him. Somehow their two souls were melded into one twisted soul.
"The body of the Dreamer in Cloudsbreak died immediately, but his soul was forever trapped with the soul of the mare. His goal is to make all dreamers hideous like himself. He calls his vision of the future The Cauldron Inevitable, a dream where all souls float in the endless chaos, twisted in the same way he is.
Back to the sanctuary in Evernight: the Vision ended. We soon left the sanctuary, intent on gathering followers for the Dread One, followers who would help him convert all dreamers in his image. Outside of sanctuary, a few dreamers took it upon themselves to attack me physically for what I had done. Well needless to say, I had lost my Will but I could still fight like the devil. I collapsed all who attacked me.. unless of course they ran away in time, which many did.
Fortunately for everyone, Lissa was there and kept a cool head. She realized that the Chaos Ring was the source of my power and that it could not be removed from me if I was collapsed. She managed to calm most of the dreamers down long enough for her to abjure me while others paralyzed me. As soon as the ring left my finger, I collapsed to the ground unconscious.
"I soon woke up, amazed at what I saw. All of the memories of events after Yog-ka was killed were lost to me. To me no time had passed since then. It felt as tough I had stormed out of Ka's execution and when I returned I awakened in the Cenotaph of Dread.
"I was amazed at what people told me, and especially amazed at the House Calenture emblem on my chest. I did not leave HC right away, however, because I did not know why I had joined in the first place, and i am not one to burn my bridges so shortly after I cross them.
"... until a few days ago when i learned that my brother... my own brother possessed the Gravin Device, the very instrument which was used at Yog-ka's trial to return Shade's lost memories. During the time when I still could not remember what had happened I overheard Lissa asking for the Essence which contained her son's soul. They knew that I had stolen it, but they assumed that I must have given it to someone for safekeeping.
"To my surprise (and horror), I found the essence tucked away deep in my pack, and promptly returned it to her. Somehow she was able to use it and the Book of Souls to restore her son's soul. So by the time I regained my memories, everything was back to normal."